Sexy Sassy You (eat your heart out Barbie)

Did you hear? Barbie’s going curvy, petite and multi-cultural. Mattel has realised the need to update the iconic, pneumatic, impossibly slender and long-legged doll for a new generation. What sort of message have they been sending until now? Apparently the diminutive All-American’s proportions were copied from a German predecessor called Bild Lilli. Lilli was based on a popular comic strip about a woman in search of a wealthy partner… and was aimed at.. err… men.

Lilli Doll
Bild Lilli – the inspiration behind Barbie

In Barbie’s world, not only is value placed on looks, but impossible looks at that. Inaccurate vital statistics – nobody can be that tall, that slim and that buxom on top – are matched by an inaccurate portrayal of success. Success in Barbie-land means the Barbie house, the Barbie pink convertible, the Barbie wardrobe of clothes and of course, the Barbie horse. If you don’t have the impossible hat trick of looks, lifestyle and accoutrements, you’re out.

But trends have a way of shifting. Venus de Willendorf was considered the archetype of beauty in her day. When I was a teenager, growing up in 70s England, it was hip to be androgynous. Men and women had long hair, slim hips, loon pants and straight silhouettes. I had booty. It was deeply unfashionable and I hated it. I’m finally trending now it’s all too late. Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Christina Hendricks: Where were you when I needed you?

It’s about time the commercial world woke up to the fact that women come in all shapes, sizes and colour, and that looks do not maketh a woman. Or a man. What makes a person beautiful – male or female – is the entire package. It’s the personality, the smile, the warmth they exude. It’s the things they do and the things they don’t. It’s the music they like, the way they dance, the way they extend themselves into the world. It’s how they hold themselves and hold the space. It’s how they react when the chips are down and how they behave when the stakes are high. Oriah Mountain Dreamer will tell you what she wants to know: What we all want to know.

I surrendered the war on a petite dress size when I hit my fifties. I gave up impossibly youthful looks during my menopause. But I won’t give up on my sexy sassy self. My ass was flagging a bit as big bums tend to. It was past the sell-by date. And what’s the story with skin? It seems to stretch as you age, like an old swimsuit whose Lycra has rotted. I look at the spare half inch that sags over my knees. I check the crepe-like stomach that was stretched during two pregnancies. I catch the fold of skin under the chin and turn a blind eye to the ‘egg box’ cellulite. Oh how I wish it was ‘orange peel’ like the ads say. “Unsightly orange peel” would be a luxury compared to the dimpled indentations that run up the back of my upper thighs.

Venus de Willendorf beauty
Venus de Willendorf – a beauty in her day

I don’t feel sexy. I’ve lost touch with the mesmerising allure that women possess. I’ve mislaid my own sensuality and feminine confidence. One minute it was there, all ripe and luscious and next it had withered.

Enter Burlesque. Yes. Busty, burly Burlesque. Dita Von Teese and the cheese-cake pin-ups with their nipped in waists and 1950s saucy post-card look. My teacher, Tenille Lindeque-Joshua, aka Lady Magnolia, is a dancer with legs to match Barbie’s. Within two sessions I’m wiggling my hips, walking like Monroe, wearing red lipstick and sporting vintage underwear. On went the black patent leather shoes, black patterned tights, long sparkly earrings and black eyeliner. A long shiny skirt fits around my new-found curves. An ankle-length leopard-print T-shirt dress with black netting arms and inlays hangs in my wardrobe. Nothing tarty. Nothing short. Nothing in-your-face. Just good old fashioned sexy, sassy, timeless style…. and a proper corset and fishnets for dancing, of course.

Forget Tantra. Forget workshops. Forget personal development. If you’ve lost your mojo or you feel you’re past it, if you need more confidence in the bedroom, or if you want to explore your sensuality, get yourself bumping and grinding. Burlesque, or it’s gentler cousin, Belly dancing will put you back in touch with your heritage: The inherent rhythm and eternal seductive power of the feminine. Rediscover your body and move it to the beat of the music, delighting in the sheer joy of being a woman. Every woman should go.

Tenille says it all: “The media gives us a one dimensional picture of what’s beautiful… Burlesque isn’t a picture, it’s an experience… and a whole sensation of what feels beautiful. In a burlesque performance it’s all about the performer’s personality, her character. Who she is.”


My confidence is back. My mojo’s working. I know who I am. I am woman.

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Thank you.

Love & Blessings,

The Battle of Evermore

You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but I’ve been battling with myself for over 40 years. On the one hand I love food and on the other I love being slim. I’ve never been overweight and most of my life I’ve been on the lower end of the acceptable weight range for my height. I’ve never had a full-blown eating disorder, but I have controlled my eating habits. During my late teens and twenties I was fashionably underweight, with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18. The healthy range is 18.5 to 24.5, as almost every woman reading this will know. My current BMI is 23 and I’m the fattest I’ve ever been apart from when I was pregnant. And there’s the problem.

Weighing up the odds
Stop the insanity

I’m used to being petite. I’m used to wearing slim-fitting clothes. With every decade, I’ve allowed myself to put on a few pounds. Age 30, after the birth of my daughter, I allowed myself an additional 8 lbs -about 3.5 kilos, BMI 19.8.  I was a mother and I was older, I told myself.  Age 40, my weight increased by another half Stone – about 3 kilos, BMI 21.  I figured it was healthier for my age and a comfortable compromise. I was a little heavier but it was easier to maintain. I was slim and remained in the lower half of the range despite toned muscles, which we all know weigh more than fat. I was happy with my body until last year: I hit the menopause, age 52. I’m now in the upper half of the healthy range and I’m appalled.

I enjoy food and the occasional alcoholic drink – wine, champagne, whiskey. I’m not going to exist on a low carb, low fat tasteless diet. I’m not going to eat 100% raw or juice for seven days: It gives me heartburn and an acid environment. I feel weak and miserable, dizzy and light-headed. Don’t tell me that’s the toxins coming out because I did raw and clean for three months once. My nails broke, my hair fell out and I could barely get out of bed. It simply didn’t suit me. Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurveda would agree.

I’m at my best emotionally and energetically when I’m eating a balanced, wholesome diet. I enjoy quality food made from scratch. I eat meat, eggs, fish, salad, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, seeds, nuts, rice, sweet potatoes, stir fries, dark 70% or more raw chocolate and sometimes a sweet treat. I try to eat organic and free-range when I can. I feel better when I eat porridge for breakfast with a little honey and rice milk. When I slather butter or olive oil over my vegetables, I feel more satisfied and have more energy. My skin is smoother. I don’t eat highly processed foods. I don’t eat lots of wheat. I don’t do crisps or sweets. I eat very little dairy and my portions are quite small. It’s rare for me to eat more than one course in a restaurant.

I try to walk every day for 45 minutes – exercising my heart as I head up towards Table Mountain. I try to do yoga two or three times a week, and I try to dance for an hour on Thursdays. I’m pretty fit for my age, considering that three years ago I was burned out with adrenal fatigue.

So why am I beating myself up about the 10 lbs (4.5 kilos) that just won’t budge?

It horrifies me to realise I’ve probably passed my neurosis onto my daughter. It horrifies me to realise I’m jealous of every skinny lady I see who is over 40. It horrifies me that I have wasted so much time, money and effort keeping myself below my natural, healthy weight for most of my life. Has it made me a better person? Has it helped me to grow and mature? Has it contributed to society or humanity in any way? Did it make me more attractive? Probably not, but it did make me more confident… Why must my confidence rest on the size and shape of my body? What am I (and Western Society) teaching young girls?

Do I want to continue the daily battle to eat like a sparrow and exercise like a race-horse? Do I want to defy my genetic inheritance by insisting I must be thinner? Do I want to believe that every skinny woman out there is judging me because I haven’t had the willpower to exist on grilled fish, green leaves, juice and coffee? Do I want to believe I’m unloveable and unattractive because I have curves in the wrong places? I’m 53 for God’s sake! Something has to change.

I look at the world around me. Cape Town, London, any First World City. I see women. I see two categories: Skinny and overweight. I filter out the average, normal figure. I focus on the skinniness and feel shameful. Why aren’t my legs like that, I lament? There is nothing missing in my life save skinny legs, hips and buttocks. I have a feeling it’s time to let go. My health is more important: Glowing, vital, vibrant health… and the green juice ain’t doing it.

#weight #diet #menopause #women #health #slimming #eating #self-esteem #confidence #curves